Press Release

February 2009

Fish and Game Moves Sand Creek Feed Stores

Idaho Fish and Game is moving feed stores at Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area to prepare for possible emergency winter feeding.

Normally the elk push right through Sand Creek Wildlife Management each December on their way to winter on the desert behind St. Anthony. But this year about 70 animals failed to keep up with the thousands of other elk and for some reason stopped near the ponds at the center of the wildlife management area.

While the area is managed to benefit wildlife, normally only a few hardy moose overwinter there. Recreational snow machine riders reported to Fish and Game that they had seen elk at the WMA that appeared to be struggling and that some calves had died.

Investigation by Fish and Game biologists confirmed that some elk had stopped short of the traditional winter range and appeared to be having trouble making a go of it on the wildlife management area. Fish and Game reviewed the situation with the Upper Snake Region Winter Feeding Advisory Committee to explore the issues and potential actions.

Key to any decision was an accurate elk count.

A previously planned radio telemetry flight made three passes over the wildlife management area on the morning of February 25. At that time no elk were seen and a large animal trail was observed heading to the southwest towards the traditional wintering area.

Because these elk have proven unpredictable, Fish and Game worked with Fremont County to develop a contingency plan should the elk return. The county has plowed the Sand Creek Road to the management area and has closed it to keep people from disturbing the elk.

Fish and Game took an existing supply of alfalfa hay bales and will position six tons at Sand Creek. According to IDFG

Fish & Game to Host Open House Meetings

What are the preliminary proposed changes and management goals for the upcoming big game hunting seasons? What fishing opportunities would anglers like to see in the 2011 fishing regulations?

This coming week hunters and anglers will have the chance to voice their opinions.

Idaho Fish and Game will host three meetings in the Magic Valley from 5:30 to 8 p.m.:

  • March 2 - Burley City Hall, 2020 Park Avenue., Burley.
  • March 3 - Magic Valley Regional Office, 319 South 417 East, Highway Business Park, 2.5 miles north of the Flying J, Jerome.
  • March 9 - Hailey Community Campus, Rooms 201 & 202, 1050 Fox Acres Rd., Hailey.

"For this coming fall we are looking a several changes to help achieve population management objectives for deer, elk and pronghorn," said Randy Smith, regional wildlife manager. "These meetings are a chance for us to get some feedback from hunters on the preliminary proposals, discuss issues, and listen to new ideas."

Preliminary proposals include:

Idaho City Sportsman's Breakfast Time Changed

In response to public requests, a scheduled Idaho City sportsman's breakfast Friday has been moved up an hour.

The breakfast will begin at 7 a.m. (rather than the originally scheduled 8 a.m.) but still Friday, February 27 at Trudy's Kitchen, 3876 Highway 21, Idaho City.

"We heard from a number of folks who really wanted to attend, but the 8 a.m. start time just did not fit their schedules," Fish and Game conservation officer Marshall Haynes noted. "So we made a time change that hopefully will allow more folks to attend."

Coffee will be available beginning at 7 a.m., but food will be served beginning at 8 a.m., the restaurant's normal opening time. Fish and Game staff will buy coffee for all attendees, with complimentary cinnamon rolls provided by Trudy's Kitchen.

"It's really an opportunity for folks from the Idaho City area to interact with Fish and Game staff," Fish and Game regional supervisor Scott Reinecker said. "We want to invite everyone to attend the event, have some coffee and visit with us."

One major item on the agenda will be an explanation of Fish and Game's proposed revenue increase. The agency's last increase - in 2005 - was only intended to last through 2007.

"We've been good stewards of hunter-angler dollars, making that increase stretch across four years," Reinecker said. "The time has come however, for us to seek additional revenue."

Seventy-one percent of the proposed increase would be used to catch up with inflation pressures, while the remaining 29 percent would be used for expansion of select, existing programs including urban fishing waters, improved access to some wildlife management areas and increased hatchery fish production.

For information about the Idaho City Sportsman's Breakfast, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465.

Fish & Game to Host Open House

What are the preliminary proposed changes and management goals for the upcoming big game hunting seasons? What fishing opportunities would anglers like to see in the 2011 fishing regulations?

This coming week, hunters and anglers will have the chance to voice their opinions.

Idaho Fish and Game will host three meetings from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Magic Valley:

  • March 2 - Burley City Hall, 2020 Park Avenue., Burley.
  • March 3 - Magic Valley Regional Office, 319 South 417 East, Highway Business Park, 2.5 miles north of the Flying J, Jerome.
  • March 9 - Hailey Community Campus, Rooms 201 & 202, 1050 Fox Acres Rd., Hailey.

"For this coming fall we are looking at several changes to help achieve population management objectives for deer, elk and pronghorn," said Randy Smith, regional wildlife manager. "These meetings are a chance for us to get some feedback from hunters on the preliminary proposals, discuss issues, and listen to new ideas."

Preliminary proposals include:

Proposed changes designed to increase elk numbers in the Pioneer and Smoky Mountains Zones, including:

  • Capping the Pioneer Zone A-tag.
  • Replacing the Unit 49 general A-tag spike hunt with a general antlerless muzzleloader hunt.
  • Reducing the number of bull and cow elk tags in the Smoky Mountains Pioneer Zone.

Fish and Game is considering changes in the general pronghorn archery seasons that would limit hunter numbers and improve buck and hunt quality.

Furthermore, Fish and Game is considering adjustments in mule deer seasons and permit numbers in Units 54, 55 and 56 to achieve population objectives. This could include changes in antlered permit levels and possibly new antlerless hunting opportunities.

Craig Mountain Gates Close

With the recent snowmelt and area big game animals returning to higher elevations, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will begin closing gates at Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area Wednesday, February 25.

Snowmobile enthusiasts can use the area until the closure date of March 15, but are urged to use increased caution. Hazards, such as stumps and rocks are rapidly appearing, and travel is becoming difficult with snow becoming very soft by afternoon.

The closure date was selected in cooperation with local snowmobile groups and hunters to reduce disturbance of game animals and provide security to wild turkeys during the spring season that begins on April 15.

Several conflicts have occurred in the past with unauthorized motorized vehicles entering the area. Drivers of motorized vehicles who violate the area closure are subject to a misdemeanor citation, including fines up to $1,000 and jail up to six months.

New Super Hunt System, Prices

Super Hunt applications with new prices for 2009 are now on Idaho Fish and Game's electronic licensing system.

Super Hunt drawings will continue with paper tickets before a live crowd at headquarters in Boise, as they have been since the program was established in 2004.

Entries in the Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 with the drawing set for June 15.

So what's a Super Hunt?

It is a fund-raising drawing for 40 big game tags. The tags are handed out to winners in two drawings. Tickets are drawn for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose.

That includes general hunts and controlled hunts.

The first drawing on June 15 will be for eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; one "Super Hunt Combo" ticket also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn , and moose.

A second drawing will be held in mid-August when another "Super Hunt Combo" and tickets for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11.

Hunters can take an animal or animals on their Super Hunt or Super Hunt Combo tags in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The special drawings raise money for the Access Yes! program, which helps assure hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners.

The first Super Hunt ticket costs $6. Each additional ticket for the same species purchased at the same time costs $4. The first Super Hunt Combo ticket costs $20. Each additional ticket purchased at the same time costs $16.

Wildlife Needs Your Help

Wildlife habitat in the Magic Valley is getting a helping hand, and you can be part of that effort.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Twin Falls District Bureau of Land Management invite area residents to join them in planting bitterbrush and sagebrush throughout the region. The project is part of the Volunteers for Habitat Restoration program, a cooperative effort to improve upland and riparian wildlife habitat in southern Idaho.

According to Regional Wildlife Habitat Manager Mark Fleming, bitterbrush is a preferred food source where it occurs on mule deer winter range.

"Fire has impacted much of our deer habitat," Fleming said. "By planting seedlings, we're giving these areas a head start. Without our intervention, it could take a generation before we see bitterbrush begin to thrive again."

Sagebrush seedlings are a key component of habitat for the greater sage-grouse, a species of concern in Idaho. In fact, shrub seedlings are important for a variety of game and non-game species alike.

The agencies believe that volunteers are a key component in their efforts to preserve fish and wildlife for future generations.

"When a person works on the landscape, they've made an investment in that landscape and people tend to protect their investments," said Ed Papenberg, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator. "We're planting seedlings, but we're also cultivating a community which values its natural resources."

"Besides, it's just plain fun, you get to spend time in beautiful country, and make new friends," he said.

Each planting effort is an all-day affair including driving time, and participants need to prepare for any weather. Planting will take place at various sites on Saturdays from late March through the end of April. Anyone interested in joining should call Papenberg at 324-4359 to sign up.

Volunteers Needed to Plant for Wildlife

Thousands of sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings are scheduled to be planted in the weeks ahead on the Boise River Wildlife Management Area east of Boise.

Idaho Fish and Game is asking for volunteers to help with the effort.

Saturday, March 7, marks the first day of the annual volunteer native shrub restoration project. Subsequent planting efforts will be on March 14, 21, 28 and April 4. Transportation and all planting tools will be provided.

For more information regarding the planting project, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Fish and Game, call 327-7095. Volunteer information is also available on the agency's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/volunteer/southwest.cfm.

Volunteers have planted hundreds of thousands of bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings during the past twenty years to restore native bitterbrush and sagebrush habitats in Southwest Idaho. In the process, they've saved the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Volunteers make large-scale native habitat restoration projects possible by providing the workforce to plant," Fish and Game volunteer coordinator Mary Dudley said. "And volunteers make an otherwise daunting project fun and satisfying."

Bitterbrush and sagebrush - both native shrubs - comprise an important component of big game winter ranges in Idaho and throughout the west. Besides providing essential food sources for deer, elk and other wildlife, bitterbrush and sagebrush provide cover from the elements and predators and nesting habitat.

Online Trip Auction Starts Friday

Are you interested in an incredible Idaho adventure?

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Inc. presents its 19th Annual Online Trip Auction beginning 9 a.m. Friday, February 27. This year's auction offers 40 trips. Here are just a few:

  • Horseback Fish Stocking
  • Family Camping
  • Thousand Springs dinner and Nature Show
  • Sturgeon Fishing and Research in Hells Canyon
  • Winter Swan Monitoring
  • Silver Creek Excursion

"We have a variety of trips this year, and there's an adventure for everyone," said Gayle Valentine, foundation executive director. This year's auction will support "Be Outside," Idaho Children and Nature Network, connecting children with nature in Idaho from backyards to mountaintops. http://www.beoutsideidaho.org.

"The winning bidders will have a chance to experience Idaho's greatest gift, the outdoors," Valentine said.

This event, co-sponsored with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, is the foundation's largest fundraiser, attracting hunters and anglers as well as hikers and wildlife watchers.

Visit the auction site to see the full listing of trips and descriptions. To register, bid and win an Idaho adventure visit: http://www.ifwfauction.cmarket.com.

The major sponsor for the 2009 trip auction is Outdoor Central, a part of Active Network, offering integrated technology and marketing solutions for conservation and park agencies.

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to protect and sustain Idaho's hunting, fishing and wildlife heritage for present and future generations. Established in 1990, the volunteer board of directors work in all regions of the state, funding habitat projects and wildlife conservation education projects.

Nature Center Book Signing, Sale to Benefit Education

The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center will host its first book signing and sale from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 28.

The book signing will feature some top Idaho authors, with topics ranging from Idaho wildflowers to the history of Tom and Julia Davis. Authors will read from their books, and light refreshments will be served. Signed books will be available for sale. Come and enjoy a cozy afternoon at the MK Nature Center, behind the Idaho Fish and Game headquarters on South Walnut Street in Boise.

Proceeds from the event will help fund educational programs at the MK Nature Center. For information regarding this event contact Cass Meissner at 208-287-2901 or email at cmeissner@idfg.idaho.gov.

Ask Fish and Game: Archery Permits

Q. My friend says that when I buy an archery permit, I can hunt only in the archery portion of deer or elk hunts. Is this true?

A. No. An archery permit is required to hunt any of the "archery-only" seasons. But no archery permit is required to hunt in an "any weapon" season.

To hunt in muzzleloader-only hunts, hunters also need to buy a muzzleloader permit.

Weeds, Wolves and Big Game Highlight Fish and Game Meeting

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to the March 3 Coffee at Fish and Game meeting at 6:30 a.m., at the Idaho Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.

Idaho Fish and Game personnel will present information on a number of topics, including Craig Mountain noxious weed control and Chimney Complex fire restoration efforts, recent wolf-big game research, big game aerial survey results, and the 2009 season proposals. Reports will also be given on the steelhead season and upcoming salmon season.

"We'll buy the coffee and donuts, and we hope local hunters and anglers bring their questions and comments," said Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region supervisor.

The morning meeting is open to anyone and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The meeting will conclude by 8:30 a.m.